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World - Europe

Kurdish demonstrators stage sit-in on London street

Kurds holding hostages in The Hague, Netherlands -- including the Greek ambassador's wife and son -- hang banners and wave flags from the balcony of the ambassador's residence

Protests around the world:
see the scenes
CNN's Nic Robertson reports from London on the Kurdish demonstrations across Europe
Windows Media 28K 80K

CNN's Richard Blystone reports from London on negotiations with Kurdish protestors...
AIFF or WAV (128K/ 25 sec) Audio

CNN's Peter Humi describes the occupation of the Kenyan Embassy in Paris...
AIFF or WAV (266K/ 15 sec) Audio

Banu Guyen of NTV in Istanbul reports that Ocalan's arrest was a secret operation...
AIFF or WAV (329K/ 30 sec) Audio
Kurdish rebel leader seized, flown to Turkey
Profile: Ocalan inspires loyalty, hate

Protests rock key European cities

February 16, 1999
Web posted at: 12:39 p.m. EST (1739 GMT)

In this story:

Greek ambassador to Austria held hostage

'It is purely a political affair'

INTERACTIVE: see the scenes


LONDON (CNN) -- About 3,000 Kurdish demonstrators blocked traffic outside the Greek Embassy in London Tuesday, protesting the arrest of Kurdish activist Abdullah Ocalan.

Meanwhile, about 100 protesters occupied the building. Earlier in the day, they threatened to set themselves on fire to support him.

Ocalan, wanted on terrorism charges in Turkey, reportedly was handed over to Kenyan authorities Monday after seeking refuge at the Greek Embassy in Nairobi. Kenyan police then handed the Kurdish leader over to Turkish authorities.

Ocalan heads the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a 15-year war for autonomy from Turkey.

The London protesters sat down on Holland Park Avenue, a major thoroughfare, late Tuesday afternoon, waving Kurdish flags and chanting. Adding to the traffic troubles: London's underground subway was shut down.

British riot police in padded uniforms cordoned off the area, but were staying clear of the relatively peaceful crowd.

Greek ambassador to Austria held hostage

Angry Kurdish protesters took hostages and set fires across Europe Tuesday, storming embassies and consulates from London to Moscow.

The demonstrators burst into the Greek and Kenyan embassies early Tuesday in Vienna, Austria, and took five hostages at the Greek mission, including the ambassador.

Kurds at the Kenyan Embassy threatened to set it on fire if their demands for talks weren't met.

At the Greek Embassy, Ambassador Ioannis Yennimatas and his wife were reportedly unhurt, and were in telephone contact with visiting Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos and Austrian President Thomas Klestil.

In Washington, the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton called on the Kurds to release their hostages and lay down their arms.

'It is purely a political affair'

At The Hague, about 150 Kurds entered the Greek ambassador's residence and took three hostages, including the ambassador's wife and 8-year-old son. The ambassador was not home at the time. Police stopped a separate group of about 100 Kurds trying to reach the residence, arresting many of the demonstrators.

In London, protesters took over the Greek Embassy and threatened to burn themselves to death. They demanded Ocalan's release and blamed Western governments for the plight of Turkey's Kurdish minority. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the embassy.

Russian police arrested 49 protesters who occupied the Greek embassy for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov condemned the takeover, but police officials said the detainees were likely to be freed without facing charges.

"It is purely a political affair," a police spokesman said.

Protests erupted throughout Switzerland. In Geneva, 30 to 40 protesters occupied the main United Nations building, and in Zurich and Berne, demonstrators occupied Greek diplomatic buildings.

In France, several people were injured when police in Strasbourg forced about 30 demonstrators out of the Greek consulate. Another 20 Kurds were arrested in Paris trying to enter the Greek Embassy.

Other protests:

  • Brussels, Belgium -- Protesters occupying the Greek Embassy threatened to burn themselves to death if any attempt were made to remove them.

  • Marseilles, France -- Several dozen demonstrators occupying the Greek consulate threatened to burn themselves. Two people were injured.

  • Frankfurt, Germany -- 50 activists stormed the Greek mission demanding a meeting with the consul.

  • Dusseldorf, Germany -- 300 protesters occupied the Greek consulate. About 30 were arrested.

  • Stuttgart, Germany -- Police stormed the occupied Greek consulate, arresting 14 Kurdish protesters.

  • Copenhagen, Denmark -- 48 pro-Kurdish protesters were arrested, trying to force their way into the Greek Embassy.

CNN Correspondents Peter Humi, Richard Blystone and Nic Robertson and Reuters contributed to this report.

Kurdish rebel leader snatched in clandestine operation
February 15, 1999
Kurd stages ``human torch'' protest in Athens
February 15, 1999
Fugitive Ocalan slams Europe for ignoring Kurdish problem
February 7, 1999

Kurdistan Workers Party Information
The Republic of Turkey
President of the Turkish Republic
The Center for Kurdish Political Studies
Terrorist acts by the PKK
Turkish Press Review: Daily News
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